Is QRL the answer to Bitcoin’s Quantum Computing Threat?

October 19, 2017 by

The obsession of the world with Bitcoin is at an all-time high but few people have given thought to the fact that the advancement of quantum computing may make the hacking of Bitcoin possible within a period of few months. There are technologies like QRL and IOTA in the works, but it’s still in its early days. And while they sort out their teething issues, even traditional agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA) has been alarmed by the pace of things and has abandoned SHA-256 cryptography—the same cryptography as Bitcoin—altogether. 

Is this something to worry about?

Well, that is debatable. The strong supporters of Bitcoin argue against quantum computing primarily for three reasons:

  • Bitcoin can upgrade its cryptography: Bitcoin supporters advocate that it is not impossible to upgrade the present cryptography of Bitcoin into something more secure like SHA-384.  But is that really possible? As is evident from the history, Bitcoin upgrades take time and are mostly politicised. The same may happen with an SHA-385 upgrade as well.
  • Not every public key is public: Advocates of bitcoin argue the importance of distinguishing between public keys and Bitcoin addresses. They explain that a Bitcoin address is a quantum-proof, one-way hash of the public key which cannot be reversed. However, it is imperative to remember that as soon as a Bitcoin is sent from an address, the public key becomes public. This is to say that almost half of Bitcoin addresses have their public keys exposed. It is highly likely that a quantum attack of this magnitude will prove terminal for the entire Bitcoin network.
  • No attacking incentives for the Government: The Bitcoin proponents argue that the government stands to gain nothing by attacking Bitcoin.

However, we must not forget that the individuals who work in the government can be. It is not unusual for government employs to let go of their ethics in the temptation of multiplied financial rewards.

Can Quantum Computing really break Bitcoin?

In a statement issued by IBM’s quantum computing department, Jerry Chow said, “at 50  qubits, universal quantum computing would reach that inflection point and be able to solve problems existing computers can’t handle. This type of computing power would render the cryptography underlying bitcoin’s protocol vulnerable.” He also mentioned that IBM is planning to deploy a completely functional 50-qubit computer in the next few years.

While this is the scene in IBM, Google is just months away from completing a 49-qubit system. In their new innovative approach, Pedram Roushan from Google along with Cahrles Neil from the University of California, Santa Barbara has opted for a superconducting qubit that involves a loop of metal cooled to extremely low temperatures. In an experiment they conducted for checking the functioning of this design, it was found that the errors could not scale rapidly on these chips.

What is the alternative?

At this point, the only plausible alternative appears to be entering the domain of quantum-resistant cryptocurrencies. At present, only one live project of this new generation of crypto, IOTA, attempted to solve the problem. Unfortunately, not long after its launch in 2017, IOTA witnessed the discovery of a major flaw in its cryptography which led to enormous speculations on the group’s claim about being quantum-resistant.

As a result, the Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) is likely to rise as the truly quantum-resistant cryptocurrency.

What is QRL?

Adopting the Extended Merkle Signature Scheme, a post-quantum cryptography, QRL is all set to become the first ever ledger with an encryption based on academically accepted quantum-resistant cryptography.

In addition, QRL is claimed to have a staking mechanism that allows users to earn a return on their holdings. The future duplications of this protocol will include the adoption of smart contracts and unconventional forms of messaging.

When is it expected to launch?

If the newly launched road map of QRL is to be believed, the world will have access to the QRL cryptocurrency before Christmas 2017. It has already hosted a token sale in May 2017 where it released 52 million ERC-20 token which will be eligible for one to one exchanges for coins on the main network post its launch in December. 

What happened after the ICO sale?

QRL witnessed the departure of a disgruntled employee soon after its ICO. This led to most people losing faith and the prices of QRL facing a decline. However, the founder and the project rose again with the expansion of the core team and worked on the development of QRL Github site.

What now?

The advanced design of QRL will be faced with the threat that is pacing towards the crypto space. Though the QRL team is currently in the top 20 of more than 1000 other projects for development talents, its low price keeps it outside the top 100 by market caps.

The only solution now is to observe the progress of the QRL coin closely and see what happens once it is launched in the market.

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